Grand Seiko Soko U.S. Special Edition

Bamboo Forests In Peak Season: A Look At The New Grand Seiko Soko U.S. Special Edition

This US-only timepiece pays tribute to the profound effect the beauty of nature has upon our senses.

By Rhonda Riche

No matter how quickly our society seems to change, the sight of natural cycling through the seasons keeps us grounded. This is why the two new, US-only Grand Seiko Soko Special Editions feel so soothing right now. Not only are they objects of beauty, but they also provide a contemplation on time itself. 

A continuation of 2019’s Grand Seiko Four Seasons special editions (read more HERE), these editions delve deeper into nature’s subtle shifts with the kind of time-honored, artisanal details that the brand is known for. 


In most of the Americas, we observe winter, spring, summer, and fall, but in Japan, there are twenty-four sekki, or seasons, that break down Mother Nature’s moods in greater detail.

These two new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Special Editions are designed to pay tribute to how the Japanese reflect on nature and the way time flows.

Specifically, the new timepieces celebrate sōkō, or the end of autumn, when the first frost embraces the Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto. Just as cherry blossom season is a big tourist draw to Washington DC, late fall is the peak season in Arashiyama because of how the late autumn light shoots through the intense green of the bamboo and contrasts against steely autumn skies. 

It is a very short, specific moment in time, but for visitors, it's incredibly moving. To get to the ideal spot in the 1,000-year-old forest, you must follow a narrow path to a small grove where tens of thousands of bamboo grow. Between the sounds of the stalks rustling and creaking and the rays of light shining through the tightly packed bamboo as the sun rises and sets, the experience is described as a waking dream.


There are two versions of the Soko U.S. Special Edition but both 39.0mm timepieces express this idea aesthetically with bright green accent colors on the second hand and the power reserve indicator. And the texture on the dials is vertical, signifying the soaring bamboo stalks. 

Each version, however, provides a different take on the effect of late autumn on the light. The silver dial of the SBGA427 is more evocative of the way sunbeams slash through the tightly packed growth, while the gray dial of the SBGA429 represents the shadows cast upon the forest floor.

And of course, the fine finish of the dial and stainless steel case meet the highest degree of Japanese craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko. 


While time seems to stand still during sōkō in Arashiyama, the precision of the Soko U.S. Special Edition ensures that you won’t get too lost in the moment. These timepieces are powered by Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive 9R65 Caliber, which is designed, adjusted, and hand-assembled by the craftspeople at the Shinshu Watch Studio in Japan. 

Just as Arashiyama is recognized as one of the “100 Soundscapes of Japan” by the Japanese Ministry of Environment, the unique Spring Drive is celebrated as one of the great innovations in modern watchmaking. This movement features a state-of-the-art electro-magnetic regulator that functions without an external power source. Its gets its energy from a mainspring, which drives a series of gears and delivers an unprecedented precision of ± one second a day. The efficiency of this caliber also provides a 72-hour power reserve.

The Soko U.S. Special Edition also comes with timeless touches such as a dual curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, a screw-down see-through case back, and a crocodile leather strap with three-fold clasp push-button release or a stainless steel bracelet.

Both watches will be available in the fall at a recommended retail price of $5,000.

(Images provided by Grand Seiko)

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